Welcome to the second edition of our daily DDHQ House Elections Updates. I’m your host, G. Elliott Morris. Questions, comments, concerns? Feel free to pass along via email. There are 433 days until the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats are up in the generic ballot by 8% and we rate 196 seats as Safe, Likely or Lean Democratic. Check our full U.S. House forecast here and read our full list of ratings here.
Here’s what happened in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, August 29th, 2017.
PA-11: Lou Barletta (R) is running for the Senate
Rep. Barletta is officially running to challenge Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) as U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Barletta was first elected in 2010 and is an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump. Casey bills himself as a moderate Democrat much in the mold of his father, who governed the Commonwealth in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His favorability rating has been rather luckluster, recently dipping to 36%. Casey won his most recent election by roughly 10%, and it is unclear whether he will obtain the same performance in a state that swung 5% to the right in the Presidential election. Barletta will be vacating a seat that he won by 28% in 2016, slightly exceeding Trump’s 24% margin. DDHQ currently rates the seat as Likely Republican: even though it’s an open race, it would take a rather catastrophic cycle to become vulnerable.
ME-02: Another Democrat joins the race
If it feels like just yesterday we were talking about ME-02, that’s because we were. Yesterday, Jared Golden, a Marine and current Assistant State House Majority Leader, announced his candidacy for the same seat. Tim Rich, by contrast, is a coffee shop owner living in Bar Harbor. He promises a progressive, anti-establishment agenda — and with it a hotly contested primary battle next June. From the Maine Sun Journal:
“I don’t believe the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the national party should have any role in a primary,” Rich said. Party officials in Washington and Augusta, he said, represent “the same old politics” that hasn’t delivered victory.
There are four other Democrats running for nomination to contest Republican incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin. ME-02 is a Lean Republican seat, and the only GOP-held congressional district in New England.
PA-15: Possible primary challenge to Charles Dent (R)
Pennsylvania State Representative Justin Simmons is toying with a possible primary challenge to incumbent Charles Dent (R). Simmons’ challenge would come from the right, calling Dent “America’s most liberal Republican” in response to his moderate record on healthcare and government spending. PA-15 is a Lean Republican seat, where Dent won handily last cycle but Hillary Clinton earned an impressive 45% of the Presidential vote in the district. If Simmons wins the primary challenge next year, he could upset the balance of power in the district and move the seat closer to a competitive rating. Keep your eye on PA-15 as a microcosm of inter-party feuds that predated the Trump Administration.
OH-12: Democrats ratcheting up challenge to Pat Tiberi (R)
The Delaware Gazette reports that Democrats are looking for a pickup in OH-12, pushing two relatively quintessential left-of-center candidates. John Peters and Ed Albertson head up the competition. Albertson ran unsuccessfully against Tiberi in 2016, earning just 31% of the two-party vote. Hillary Clinton won 41% of voters in OH-12 last year and the seat is an almost-safe Likely Republican district.
SD-AL: Representative Kristi Noem (R) gets boost in gubernatorial bid
Representative Kristi Noem (R), who is running for governor rather than re-election next cycle, entertained a visit from South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy (R, SC-04). With her gubernatorial efforts likely siphoning the bulk of donations for in-state-races, it may mean less cash for the Republican aiming to retain the seat, but it has been safely red since Noem’s win in 2010.
We are watching House members’ and challengers’ responses to Hurricane Harvey, and keeping our eyes peeled for any post-Labor Day campaign kickoffs or retirement announcements.